After 6 years living in Canada, here’s what I miss most about Australia!

Apr 08, 2024
Source: Getty Images.

My brother arrived back in Australia last month from Canada where he’s been living for the past six years.

He’s on a 40-day holiday that’s taking him from Sydney to Phillip Island, Traralgon, Albion Park and the Gold Coast travelling by car along the gorgeous and dramatic east coast of Australia.

At 68, he’s calling it his farewell tour.

“This is it. I won’t be back. It’s too far to travel,’’ he announced in a very matter-of-fact way.

He flew here with his Canadian wife Lori from Toronto, via Hong Kong, to Sydney. We caught up last week sharing childhood stories; lamenting the efforts of our football team South Sydney; and chatting about how his life has changed so dramatically.

Trevor’s first wife died about eight years ago. Before her passing, he’d lived his entire six decades within a two-kilometre radius of where he was born – Albion Park Rail. He rarely ventured out of his patch, surrounded by uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends.

Since falling for Lori, whose first husband died about the same time as Trevor’s wife, he has packed everything he owns into two suitcases and moved halfway across the world to start a new life in a country he’d only ever visited once. He now holidays in Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. He often takes the hour-long drive to Niagara Falls, the Canadian side, to visit the casinos and watch bands like Train and John Fogerty like it is an everyday occurrence. It’s amazing to think how small his world was, and now how big it is.

He’s still very much an Australian. Shorts, thongs and an always at hand stubby holder are his main fashion accessories. And while he still loves Australia, he has no doubt that the lucky country has changed dramatically over the past six years. And not for the better.

He says that the cost of living here is out of control. We are more than aware of that because we read about it, and pay for it, every single day. But we are conditioned to the constant price rises because things go up a little every day, every week. Just imagine your shock if you hadn’t bought petrol, cigarettes or a beer here for six years!

The last time Trevor bought petrol on the Gold Coast (in 2018) a litre of unleaded 91 cost on average $1.39. Today the cheapest you’ll get that same petrol is $1.99 per litre. If you use a tank of petrol a week, that means that petrol annually (if you drive a car with 40-litre tank and fill up once a week) is costing you about $1250 more per year than it did in 2018. That’s something you notice.

Trevor and Lori are also smokers. They get their cigarettes for $2.50 (yes, $2.50) a packet in Canada. Admittedly they live near an Indian Reservation so they can buy them tax free. Here, back in 2018 when Trevor left the country, he was paying about $25 to $30 a pack for Winfield Blue 25s. Today that price is almost $48. Trevor made the smart decision to stop smoking before arriving home otherwise his packet-a day habit would have cost him upwards of $1900 during his 40-day Australian sojourn. And beer, his favourite thing in the world, has disappointed him as well. Back in 2018, he used to complain bitterly about having to pay close to $7.50 for a pint of ice-cold Toohey’s New. Today, even in Trevor’s natural habitat – Bowls Clubs – where it is supposed to be cheap, you can expect to pay upwards of $12 for a pint of the magical amber liquid.

“I’m not sure how I would pay these prices if I was still living here,’’ he lamented.

“I’d have spent a huge chunk of my super fund money just trying to maintain the same lifestyle. I’d be going backwards at the rate of knots.’’

Trevor is lucky that he can access most of the things he loves about Australia at his home in Hamilton, Ontario. He can watch the NRL live on an app. He’s found a local store where he can get Vegemite, albeit for about $20 per jar. And most supermarkets have ample Tim Tams on the shelf in the biscuit aisle.

What he can’t get though is sausages. Beef sausages to be precise. He can get pork sausages imported from Ireland, but not beef. When he first arrived, he went and introduced himself to about a dozen butchers asking them if they made beef sausages. No joy. He even printed out the recipe and took it down to his favourite butcher shop to ask if they could have a go at preparing a banger to sit on top of his world-famous creamy mash.

And lastly, Canadians don’t do pies like us. The Brits do pies that are very much as\ good as ours – if not better. But in Canada, pies are normally either larger sweet pies (think pumpkin pie), or pot pies which are similar in size to an Aussie pie, but the pastry is shorter (crumblier) and the fillings vastly different. I was not surprised to discover that Trevor had “Liked” the Best Pies NSW & ACT page on Facebook in his bid to consume as many good pies as possible during his stay down under. I took him to my favourite bakery Rise at Sanctuary Cove. Rise is so much more than a pie shop, but they do bake two top shelf pies. The large chicken truffle pie is good but the large beef pie with slow-cooked diced beef in a flavourful red wine gravy with carrots, onions and thyme nestled in a puff pastry dough is simply awesome. His only complaint was that they had no tomato sauce.


Anyway, as he wiped the last piece of flaky pastry from his chin, I think I heard him say: “I might have to come back for another one of these!” Let’s hope so and let’s hope he has as many farewell tours of Australia as John Farnham because it was great to have him home, if only briefly.

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